London-set drama Top Boy will “expand the world” of the show “in a really interesting way” when its fourth season airs on Netflix, filmmaker Aneil Karia, who directed three episodes of the most recent season, has told NME.
Top Boy, which follows the dealings of a group of gang members on a housing estate in the East End, includes Ashley Walters and Micheal Ward in its mostly British cast. Its first two series were broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK before it was abruptly cancelled. Netflix rebooted the series in 2019 with a third series – and a fourth has also been confirmed, expected to air sometime in 2021.
While not officially involved with the new episodes, Karia remains on good terms with the cast and crew of the show. “I haven’t been on board with series four but I’m still close to everyone in that Top Boy family,” he said. “I’m good friends with Kano and I speak to Ashley [Walters] as well so I’ve been hearing bits and bobs about it. As a fan, I’m really, really excited to see more. I know that all the old favourites [are back] but there’s also some really exciting new characters. It sounds like they’re expanding the world in a really interesting way.”
Karia also reflected on his time shooting with the cast of season three, telling NME he had “fond memories” from production.
“I loved the original miniseries that Yann Demange did, so when I was approached about direction on the Netflix revamp I was delighted, he said. “It was a fantastic experience. I found friendships through it, and obviously worked with Kano afterwards on his short film, some music videos and things like that.”
He added: “I instinctively felt felt quite suited to [the style of filmmaking]. I didn’t feel like I was having to strain to understand the visual grammar of what we were doing. I feel very lucky to have done the finale episode – the incredible moments with Dris and Sully and that narrative was a real highlight for me. I loved crafting and directing that with an insanely talented cast.”
Karia is currently focused on his feature-length debut film Surge, starring Ben Whishaw. Released last week in UK cinemas and on digital platforms, it follows a man who goes on a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation in London over 24 hours.
“It was not a straightforward film to develop,” said Karia. “I was trying to prove what are essentially quite abstract, esoteric themes – about life and trying to experience it in a deeper and more profound sense. There was a lot of sitting around tables, chatting to each other over coffee about the nature of contemporary existence, and what a city does to us on a psychological level.”
When he eventually got out onto set with the cast and crew, Whishaw’s talent blew Karia away. “I can’t take too much credit for Ben’s greatness [in the film],” admitted Karia. “In terms of our process, there were a lot of discussions about the character and what was driving him emotionally and psychologically. It was a lot more like a conversation, chewing over things, than it was traditional rehearsal. What I wanted to do was to create as liberating an environment as possible as I could for Ben.”
Surge is out now in UK cinemas and available to stream on digital platforms